Andre Tranchemantague (left) and Will Guerette ski to a bar during the early stages of the snowstorm Friday in Portland, Maine. The storm sweeping into Maine already has dumped half a foot of snow around Portland, and contributed to a 19-car pileup.(We’ll be updating this post; most recently at 1 p.m. ET.)

Add up the populations in areas that the National Weather Service is warning will get at least 1 to 2 feet of snow starting Friday afternoon and you quickly see just how serious the situation will be.

About 50 million people are in the potentially historic storm’s path.

Blizzard and winter storm warnings cover an area from Pennsylvania and New Jersey up through all of New York state and east through New England. And according to the Weather Service:

“As much as one to two feet of snow is forecast from the New York City metro area to Maine, with localized heavier amounts possible. This, in addition to wind gusts as high as 60-75 mph, will create significant impacts to transportation and power.”

It’s probably no surprise that schools, government offices and businesses across the area are closed or closing early. Trying to get to the region today? Good luck. Airlines are canceling flights. Amtrak won’t be running north from New York City or south from Boston starting early Friday afternoon.

As WBUR reports, the simple advice from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is to stay home. Our colleagues at WNYC have a “complete guide to getting snowed in” for anyone looking for advice on such things as “essential snow day snacking.” At the Boston Globe‘s Weather Wisdom blog, meteorologist David Epstein suggests that “if you have last minute things you do want to get done try to be home by 3 PM this afternoon.”

Power outages, of course, are a major concern. The storm’s timing, though, is relatively fortunate. At least work crews will have a weekend, when commuters are off the roads, to get streets cleared and power lines reconnected.

Good luck to all those in the way of this storm. We’ll keep an eye on things and update as warranted.

Update at 1:15 p.m. ET. We’re Always Looking For Fun Photos, Videos, Etc.:

If you’re stuck in the snow the next day or two and looking for things to do, consider applying your snow sculpture and social media skills. Slideshows, videos, etc., of your creations or the accumulating snow could be great. And tell us in the comments thread or on the NPR Facebook page about good ones you produce or see.

We suspect many of you can do much better than this blogger did back in December 2009 and February 2010. A bigger challenge might be to match what Michael Black of New Jersey put together back then.

Update at 1 p.m. ET. In Massachusetts, Travel Ban At 4 p.m. ET; In Connecticut ‘Things Are Starting To Accumulate’:

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) tweets that he has “signed an Executive Order banning vehicles on the road effective at 4 p.m. today.” (His order is posted here.) States and localities across the affected area are declaring states of emergency. The Hartford Courant says that in Connecticut, “Gov. Dannel P. Malloy [D] declared a state of emergency Friday and said he is coordinating with state officials in New York and Massachusetts about whether to close highways as a potentially crippling snow storm moved into the region. … ‘Things are starting to accumulate,’ Malloy said, explaining that cars getting stuck on highways would be problematic and slow down the cleanup process.”

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